September has been a very busy month with some really awesome things happening for the Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience. What’s been especially meaningful to me this month is RAFE was being represented by members around the country and significant RAFE events where taking place while I was totally preoccupied by racing in the 2019 National Championship Air Races in Reno, NV. This doesn’t seem to sound right as the President of RAFE would normally want to be involved in great stuff happening for our organization, but it really validates that this organization is growing and people are getting involved. For the longest time I felt like a “one-man-band”, which obviously limits how much can be done. Now, with living proof more people are getting involved in RAFE I’m relieved and excited about the future!
A real surprise this month was the unveiling of the October issue of Sport Aviation and on its cover a formation of four of the participants in the Rutan Reunion Flight that flew over Oshkosh this summer. Congrats to Charlie Spinelli in his VariViggen, Leif Johnson and his Varieze “Speedy”, and Tres Clements in the Catbird. It was truly an honor for me to fly the RAFE David Brown LongEZ with these talented Pilots. RAFE's logo is on the cover of Sport Aviation!
Over Labor Day weekend Izzy Briggs and Petra Sobotka represented RAFE by flying to the Kanab race in RAFE’s newest addition the Steve Wright Varieze.
At the same time during Labor day weekend, Jeff Goodrich was getting his final checkout in the RAFE Martin Kennedy LongEZ in Covington with the help of RAFE Instructor Rick Finney and the Jetguys. Jeff flew the Kennedy LongEZ to its new home in Slanton, TX to initiate the first ever RAFE Canard Base.
I don’t want to take anything away from any of these events but I really want to make an introduction to Jeff’s article below and emphasize the significance of what Jeff has done. The RAFE Sponsorship Program is on of the fundamental principles of our mission. It’s a way to expand the canard community with new members, maintain our visibility to the public and attract new Pilots, Mechanics, and anyone else with an interest in Rutan aircraft or aviation in general. It’s the mechanism we have to keep Rutan designs in the spotlight. Being an RAFE Sponsor Pilot is not something that’s taken lightly. The length of time it took to get the Jeff checked out in the airplane and established the North Texas Canard base was simply a factor of this being the very first Sponsor Group. Our learning curve was almost vertical. Because of Jeff’s perseverance this has proven the Sponsorship concept and laid the foundation for future Sponsors. See you at Rough River and if you’re there give Jeff a big thank you for his effort, and now, I pass this on to his story below.
The North Texas Canard Base has arrived!
The Rutan Aircraft Experience North Texas Canard Base is now up and running with it’s first RAFE aircraft!
David Ryan and I sponsored RAFE’s Dr. Martin F. Kennedy Long EZ and assisted RAFE in bringing this Wright Brothers award-winning aircraft back to airworthy flight status and to its new Home.
I found out about the Rutan Aircraft Flying experience after investigating airplanes that were fast, efficient and could get you places. I’d never been exposed to the Rutan designs before until running across a Varieze in Waco TX. The gentleman that built that Varieze spent 20 years building the plane! I had no clue as to what the airplane was, or could do. That’s when I started researching and in the process I noticed the Rutan Aicraft Flying Experience and contacted RAFE President Ryszard Zadow. This launched a two-year journey to getting the Kennedy LongEZ flying again and to its new home.
I met Ryszard at Sun-n-Fun 2017 and handed him our Sponsorship applications. The Jim Madsen LongEZ was the only aircraft RAFE had available at that time. Ryszard explained that with its 100hp O-235-C and the density altitude averages in Lubbock TX (airport elevation 3200ft) it might be better to wait and see if a LongEZ with more suitable HP could be acquired. Not long after the family of Dr. Martin F Kennedy donated his beautifully built Long EZ to RAFE and the project began. Other RAFE members and the Jet Guys jumped in to help with the arrangements and transporting the LongEZ. Bob Stevens, who had just joined RAFE himself, assisted Robert Harris and Lance Hooley in hauling the plane from Indiana to the Jet Guys facility in Covington, TN.
Shortly thereafter Sponsor David Ryan made several trips to assist in the much-needed maintenance on the aircraft. Magnetos and Carburetor were overhauled, hoses were replaced, systems tested and lots of TLC where added. The Kennedy Long EZ was back in the air! When this process began RAFE had not yet acquired the Speed Canard. That and my schedule made getting transition training in the LongEZ difficult. Patience and perseverance paid off. After the Speed Canard came along and I was able to set aside some time I got to fly with CFI and RAFE Instructor Rick Finney over last Labor Day weekend. After a very busy and challenging four day period of flying around west Tennessee I got signed off in the RAFE Kennedy LongEZ. On Sept 2nd 2019 I flew the 750 mile trip back to the North Texas Canard Base located at Slanton Municipal airport, (F49) in Slaton TX.
The much anticipated arrival of the RAFE Kennedy LongEZ to the North Texas area has caused much excitement. Since Rutan designs attract people, there’s no doubt our Canard Base will grow, add new Sponsor Pilots and members that can help us promote the mission of RAFE and keep Burt Rutan’s homebuilt designs flying!
Anyone with questions about my sponsorship experience or the Lubbock Canard Base please contact me anytime.
RAFE Sponsor Pilot
Martin Kennedy LongEZ